Q & A with Jeremy Tinder

Welcome to the second in our series of artist Q & A's. Jeremy Tinder recently made an awesome journal, greeting card, and window display for us and took some time away from creating and teaching art to talk about comics, robots, and a bad bad dream.

What are the current projects you're working on?

I'm just finishing a 10-page comic for the next issue of Tugboat Press' anthology series 'Papercutter.' My story is called 'Pete at Night.' I'm also working on a few other books that I'm very excited about, but I'm not sure I want to talk about them publicly yet. Next year should be a big year for me.

You teach a class at the Art Institute of Chicago called Indie Comics and Self-Publishing. What's it like going from such solitary work like comics or painting to interacting with students? How did you get involved with teaching?

I've been teaching just about as long as I've been making comics or painting, so it's a natural fit for me. I started teaching at this amazing college prep Quaker boarding school in Iowa called 'Scattergood Friends School.' At Scattergood I lived on the campus with the students, wrote all my curriculum and ate my meals with the students. It was a very close-knit group, and a great place for me to figure out my teaching style. I did that for one year, just before moving to Chicago for graduate school. My experience at Scattergood lead me to getting the plum TA positions in grad school, as well as a teaching gig at Marwen Foundation during grad school.

You yourself attended the Art Institute of Chicago. How did you like the school? How do you like the new museum addition?

It's a great school. They are really attentive to the needs of their students, and I can't believe some of the people I've gotten to talk with about my work through the school. I got to advise with Jerry Saltz (art critic from New York Magazine) for a semester. Amazing. Not many there were able to speak to me on any deep level about my comics, but some of us are trying to change that. I've only witnessed the construction of the new museum wing, but it looks to be an amazing addition. Watch out MCA!

How long have you been painting? Has painting taken over more of your life than comics or do you still primarily think of yourself as a comic book artist?

I painted in high school and college, but kind of abandoned it in the 3 years I took off between undergrad and graduate school. Being accepted into the painting and drawing department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for graduate school, I expected to only work on comics, but painting became so interesting for me, as well as a real challenge. So, I guess I've had a serious painting practice for four years now. I'm not sure which role looms larger in my mind. When I'm at a comic convention, like Heroes Con from which I just returned, I feel very much like a cartoonist. When I'm at an art opening or an art fair, I feel like a painter.

You've made a ton of mini comics. Is that something you always do first before you work on a larger book or do you start something out specifically for a book?

Both. I generally have a few projects going on at any given time, each with a different timeline. Like, right now I've been making some shorter comics for various anthologies, diary comics in my sketchbook, a standalone 24-page comic, and two longer books that are much different than those other things. I think a lot of my anthology comics and mini comics will eventually end up in a collection similar to 'Black Ghost Apple Factory' [Top Shelf].

Our mutual friend Martine has your mini comic 'Jeremy Tinder is an Asshole' in her car and every time I'm in her car I wonder to myself if I'd ever have the guts to publish stuff like that. The answer is no... Did you see any backlash or was it freeing?

People are definitely shocked when they read it, but they don't hate me afterwards or anything. Those are mostly stories that my close friends like to remind me of when we all get together. They all retell those stories and have a good laugh at me. I think this was me reclaiming my awfulness. Taking ownership over it, and getting over it. I also think it's the funniest thing I've ever written.

You draw lots of robots, and your last name Tinder is defined as a dry material such as wood or paper used for lighting a fire. Does the fact that your last name reaches back to almost early man and his intention to create and use tools come into conflict with these robots you draw that are made of metal and are separate from man and yet created by man (well, men and women) and YET these very robot comics are actually drawn on paper? Also, did you ever go to Epcot Center as kid at Disney World and go on the sphere/globe/golfball ride and see the future with robots vacuuming and now as a person nearing 30 think, 'Where is my robot!?!' ALSO, how do you explain the smoke monsters on Lost?

Er... I'm backing off the robots thing a little bit. I am working on a book with the robot character from 'Cry Yourself to Sleep' [Top Shelf] again, but I'm not painting or drawing them much anymore. They seem a little played out. And yes, I went to Epcot and experienced 'Spaceship Earth' as a child. It was amazing. Blew my mind. Still, Captain Eo (3-D Michael Jackson outerspace movie) was the highlight. The smoke monster is ridiculous. I want Lost to just be the Ben Linus show. He's all I care about anymore.

You just did an amazing journal for us (PLUG)--do you yourself write in a journal or have you ever? Reveal something very personal and possibly vulgur to us from said journal.

I've got a million little sketchbooks full of junk, but not a dedicated journal. I'm jealous of people who do. My friend Grant has all these mazing journal / sketchbooks. And Martine's sketchbook is my favorite art object of all time. I'll attach a dream from my sketchbook below.

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